Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bee love

Bees pollinate one-third of our food
+ Bees are in trouble
= The Great Sunflower Project

In case this looks like "fuzzy math" to you, here's the rundown:

The Great Sunflower Project was started by a San Francisco State researcher and several colleagues. The goal is to track bee pollination activity across North America in various individual gardens. Currently, there are 26,000 participants. The ABSENCE of bees in an area is an important piece of information for the researchers...perhaps even more important than the PRESENCE of bees.

Each participant is given a packet of 'Lemon Queen' sunflower seeds to plant wherever they live (or work, I suppose). When the plants bloom, participants go into "science mode" once a week or so. This involves recording the amount of time it takes for 5 bees to visit the plant and possibly photographing the visitors.

Here are my seeds:

I've planted them in a sunny location and will let you know when they bloom. I have a hunch that I'll be seeing some bees...

they really love the lavender:

and the apple tree:

Ok, no bee it that photo, but you'll just have to trust me. The bees had all gone home for the day by the time I got a chance to take this photo.

The Project's website (www.GreatSunflower.org) gives further information, if you would like to join for next year :

"We know that pollinators are declining in certain wild and many agricultural landscapes. However, little is known about urban pollinators. Our recent data on bumble bees in an urban setting suggests that urban bees may also be declining (McFrederick & LeBuhn 2006, Fenter and LeBuhn submitted). The data you collect from your sunflower willbe a start. It will provide an insight into how our green spaces in the urban, suburban and rural landscapes are connected as well as shedding light on how to help pollinators. What we need are innovative strategies to maximize the benefits of our wild and semi-wild habitat remnants. The Great Sunflower Project is the first step."


Daphne said...

I tried to join this last year. I never got the seeds. I reupped this year. I still haven't gotten the seeds :<. I hope they send me some soon.

Jackie said...

Oh, Daphne, I hope you get your seeds, too! I checked around their website and found this:
"The next round of seeds will leave here the last week of April and should arrive in mailboxes the first week of May."

So maybe they are coming soon!